A field of seven three-year-old fillies will line up at Saratoga on Saturday afternoon in the $600,000 Alabama (G1), with the winner of the race jumping to the top of the wide-open division.
The top four finishers of the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) will meet up again. A nose separated the top pair, with I’m a Chatterbox getting her nose in front of Curalina only to get disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed second.
Trainer Larry Jones trains I’m a Chatterbox, and will be coming to the Spa with both barrels loaded as he also entered Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Lovely Maria. She is looking to rebound off a dull fifth in the Delaware Oaks (G1) in her last outing on July 11.
She apparently had an excuse for her poor performance as Jones stated that she may have had a virus when she ran last. There was several other runners in the Jones barn that were also suffering from the virus.
Her last outing was just her second in nine starts whir she did not crack the exacta. The two-time Grade 1 winner figures to bounce back with a better effort for Jones, who won the Alabama in 2008 with Proud Spell.
Curalina is the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Todd Pletcher barn that has won this race with Stopchargingmaria last year and Princess of Sylmar in 2013. Her jockey John Velazquez rode last years winner and is looking for his fourth win in this race.
The seventh race on the card is the $100,000 Troy which drew eight plus one main track only entrant. Shore Runner is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Joe Sharp barn.
The five-year-old gelding has landed in the exacta in seven of his eight career starts on turf and is perfect in two trips over the Spa turf. He won the Lucky Coin on July 27 in his last outing over the grass here and won a $40,000 non-winners of two here last summer.
He makes his third start off the claim by Sharp, who took him for $62,500 back in June at Belmont Park.
It is Pacific Classic Day at Del Mar on Saturday afternoon and I will have selections for all of the graded stakes action in my Best Plays Report.
Beholder takes on the boys in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) and is the 5-2 morning line favorite. She has won 13 of her 18 career starts, winning the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) in her last start by seven lengths.
She has never taken on the boys or gone 1 ¼ miles. The race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Beholder won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
Let’s head out to the Spa for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Saratoga Race 10 The Alabama G1 (Post time 6:07 ET)
3 Lovely Maria 5-1
4 I’m a Chatterbox 5-2
2 Curalina 7-5
6 Include Betty 8-1
Analysis: Lovely Maria did not fire as the chalk in her last start in the Delaware Oaks (G3), weakening to finish fifth in her first go off a two month break. Her trainer Larry Jones said some in his barn were suffering from a virus during that time frame and Lovely Maria may have been sick at the time of her clunker.
Two back she was a good-looking winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) where she beat her stablemate I’m a Chatterbox, who was third, by 3 3/4 lengths. She came back to cross the wire first in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) but was disqualified for interference and placed second behind Curalina. She has put in three sharp works since her last outing and she figures to bounce back with a much better effort here. Jones won this race in 2008 with Proud Spell.
I’m a Chatterbox set the early fractions but drifted out in the stretch interfering with Curalina in deep stretch and was DQ’d from her CCA Oaks win. She was no match for our top pick two back at Churchill Downs after sweeping the three stakes for three-year-old fillies at Fair Grounds. She owns a good edge in early and mid pace numbers and looks capable of moving forward in her second start off a nearly a three month break.
Curalina tracked the early pace and finished gamely, beaten just a nose in the CCA Oaks and placed first via the DQ as the 4-5 betting favorite. It was her fourth consecutive victory, taking the Acorn (G1) two back in her stakes debut. The filly still looks as if she has some upside and the 1 1/4 miles should suit her. Her trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race the past two years, with Stopchargingmaria last year and Princess of Sylmar in 2013. There is plenty to like about this gal but her price is going to be on the light side.
WIN: #3 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 3,4 / 2,3,4,6
TRI: 3,4 / 2,3,4,6 / 2,3,4,5,6
Get Michael’s full card reports for Saratoga includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Get reports for the entire meeting between July 24 and Sept. 1. Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York Racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. Saratoga runs six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.